Hyperbaric Chambers and GTFOing of NYC: The Detox Diaries Part 2

Read part one of Sara’s adventures in detoxing from fashion week right here.

A 90-minute yoga sesh does wonders but it’s no seven hour plane ride. Call me crazy but there’s something semi-delicious about being disconnected in a metal box in the sky (no?). OK–that’s a lie, I spent a combined $54.00 on wifi and wrote at least four articles–and yet still! relaxing. No fashion week traffic, anyway.

Even though by now NYFW and LFW and MFW are passed; editors are in Paris, and I’m still fully immersing myself in the ever-expanding wellness scene, bringing you the best of the best–this time from coast to coast.

Though a barely 72 hour-technically-work-trip to San Francisco is no Cara Delevingne on the beach in Bali–it was just what I needed. I knew it was a prime detox opportunity when the folks at Luna/Clif HQ gave me the following packing advice: “Many wear yoga clothes to work.”


And since San Francisco may well have been first to emphasize health and wellness, off I went, in support of the 14th annual Lunafest, a festival of short films, by, for, and about women. Held at the Palace of the Fine Arts Theater, the film festival was great–I highly recommend hosting your own, btw.

Remind me not to pose next to the Katies of the world, those publicists for Luna by day, pilates instructor/pros by night…

Plus– I was lucky enough to be treated to some everygirl detox treats: more Soulcycle, and Drybar, two things I never say no to–especially in conjunction. P.S. Did you know Drybar has a VIP room?

VIP-Room-Flatiron-1The VIP room at Drybar

db-selfieDrybar #selfie

As does any workout class (anything in life, at all), this opportunity begged the question of what to wear. Since the DETOX is all about comfort without sacrificing style (especially in this era of insanely chic gear) I put together an outfit from Athleta–brand bestie of Luna’s specified to San Francisco.

Back in NYC, Still in Athleta: Workin’ out (and ready for rain) in chaturanga tights, Crunch muscle tank, and this lil slicka’.

Though I was back in NY, in well, a NY minute, I still felt rejuvenated. Last step of Part II: a quick pit stop (we’re talking under an hour here) to the palatial Erno Laszlo Institute in SoHo, where I popped into this hyperbaric chamber called Pure Oxygen by Pure Flow. A favorite of athletes, this little bed/tent/contraption is like a nap pod + (one of those things you never knew you needed but clearly do). 37 minutes in here (basically a cot on the inside) provides triple oxygen delivery, stimulates stem cell creation, and key words here: relieves jet lag.


On my way out, my technician told me I’d sleep like a baby tonight, and no matter how much else I do, sleep is still the key to any DETOX. See you soon for more on skin, nails, food, and exercise!


This Week’s NY Happenings: Taste Of The LES, Maison Premiere, Greenpoint Brunchtacular

THURSDAY: Taste Of The Lower East Side
As benefits with bites go, it’s hard to beat the Taste of the Lower East Side for both breadth and depth. Fifty top neighborhood joints will come together at 82MERCER for an all-you-can-eat extravaganza. Newer hands like Pig and Khao, Jeepney, and The Leadbelly rub shoulders with established pros like Alias and wd-50. There’s craft beer and wine to wash it down, and a danceable soundtrack from DJ AndrewAndrew. A silent auction will tempt you too, with everything from SoulCycle classes to a Rao’s reservation, all to benefit the Grand St. Settlement.

Taste of the Lower East Side starts at 7pm on Thursday, April 25th, at 82MERCER (82 Mercer St., Soho). General admission tickets are $195 ($125 is tax-deductible). To learn more about the event space, check out the listing at BlackBook Guides.

NOW: One More Trafalgar Julep
Spring has sprung at Williamsburg’s Maison Premiere. A new chef (Lisa Giffen, late of Daniel and Blue Hill) plies the kitchen, and the spring cocktail menu has been unveiled. Enjoy a full lineup of refreshing juleps like the Trafalgar (gin, sherry, crème de menthe, and lemon).

Spring cocktail menu now available at Maison Premiere (298 Bedford Ave., Williamsburg). To learn more about the bar, check out the listing at BlackBook Guides.

SATURDAY: Honeyed Brunch
To raise money for Sandy recovery, Greenpoint’s t.b.d. is hosting an epic brunch in the yard this Saturday. Neighbors as diverse as Anella, Action Burger, and Selamat Pagi will lay out a spread, accompanied by that most indispensible of brunch items—bottomless mimosas.

Rally Downtown’s Greenpoint Brunchtacular starts at noon on Saturday, April 27th, at t.b.d. (224 Franklin St., Greenpoint). Tickets are $30, or $50 for two. To learn more about the bar, check out the listing at BlackBook Guides.

Know every inch of this city by visiting BlackBook’s NY City Guides

Relaxing and Recharging at The Ranch at Live Oak

It’s like a Lululemon hallucination. The lobby at the Fairmont Miramar Hotel in Santa Monica is filled with fabulously fit kale fanatics. Everyone is chatting excitedly with introductions and anticipation. We are all here for a weeklong mental health, nutrition and weight loss retreat located at The Ranch at Live Oak in Malibu; a heavenly locale nestled within acres of hiking trails and mountaintops. For the past month, we’ve been instructed to wean off sugar, alcohol, caffeine and processed foods in preparation for the program: a total detox of mind and body. Most of us listened; some of us, ahem, did not.

On just two hours of sleep, I curse myself for being talked into sharing that bottle of wine last night with some Parisian bon vivant I met on OKCupid. It seemed like such a good idea at the time.

The point of the program is to not only heal your body from daily toxins, but also to give your mind a rest by detaching from the rest of the world. Goodbye tweets, tags, texts, status updates. Hello nature, fresh air, and deep breathing.

We pile into a car that transports us to the mountains above the beaches of Malibu. The type-As seem nice enough. Everyone sips from water bottles; I hide my Splenda-sweetened Earl Grey under the seat. Upon arrival, we are weighed, measured head-to-toe (even our wrists!), and given some nuts and dates to snack on––with the understanding that today is the only time we’ll have the freedom to eat as many as we want­.

The rest of a day is a bit of a blur. Mark, the seemingly (and later confirmed to be) wonderful program director, leads a short hike, gives a tour of the property, and explains to us about the ranch’s values. “We are here for you!” he says. “All you have to do is put one foot in front of the other, and let us do the rest. All decisions will be made. You will learn to trust, to let go, to live in the moment.”

We share individual goals for the week while enjoying an amazing dinner of fresh salad­––from the on-site organic garden, where most ingredients for the week will come from––and a mouth-watering squash dish.

After falling asleep after dinner (around 8 PM, I think), I wake to the sound of soft chimes outside my cottage door. The room is simple yet luxurious, bed cozy and surroundings silent. A follow-up wake up message comes through on the walkie-talkie (we’re told to have this on us at all times throughout our stay) announcing our morning stretch class in fifteen minutes.

After class and a breakfast of house-made granola with almond milk, we head out to our first four-hour hike of the week. Yikes. As we climb, our guides remind us through our walkie’s, “water, water, water!” We walk, sip, pee, pant, sip, pant, try to talk, and pee some more.

Back at the ranch, we have an amazing carrot curry soup––I don’t know how the chef does it. Glorious naptime follows, and afterwards we head into our afternoon workout classes (TRX, weights, then yoga) and a daily afternoon massage. Surprisingly, I’m not at all hungry and I feel good. The new environment and friends are energizing.

The following days will follow much of the same pattern: rise at 5:30 AM, an hour of stretch class, breakfast, four-hour hike, lunch, hour-long nap, two or three daily workout classes, afternoon massage, dinner, sleep.

On Tuesday, we get six almonds during our hike. Exciting! I’m grateful for this snack as I woke up feeling a bit weak, which is apparently normal. We’re told that during the first 24-48 hours of this kind of detox, our bodies are likely to respond in weird ways. Some people apparently puke. Others feel spaced. It’s completely normal for fingers to swell and tingle. Dizziness is expected.

I gain most strength back by the afternoon, especially after my session with a massage therapist/healer. When he asks how I am pre-massage, everything pours out. I’m emotional, fuzzyheaded, and unsteady feeling. He listens whole-heartedly as I purge through my life history and some personal challenges. This is so much more than a massage. With this stranger’s love and support behind me, I walk out of the session feeling whole again. Better than I have in a long time. I don’t know what just happened but I’ll take it.

Wednesday comes around and I wake up so sore. Getting out of bed is a struggle, let alone stretch class. And the hike! Clean mountain air and some self-meditative talk help get me through. I repeat over and over a mantra the masseuse helped me create yesterday having to do with being strong and powerful. And I practice gratitude. How lucky am I to have a whole week to devote to me, myself and I.

I wonder if the French gentleman has emailed me. What are my friends doing back home? Top news stories? Re-focus, Fiona. Here and now. Just be.

Thursday’s hike is the hardest. My limbs are still sore and the hiking routine feels even more intense now. Another four hours. “Put one foot in front of the other, that’s all you have to do” rings in my head. I can do this. I will do this. I did it.

Friday is our last full day of the boot camp routine. It’s been as challenging as it has been invigorating. The inspiring folks who run the Ranch have made it exciting and have taken us in with open arms. You can literally say anything––and we have. By now, our group has bonded over bathroom talk, boyfriend problems and business ventures. There are no boundaries.

We all glow as a group. Our skin is clearer, eyes are brighter and heads happier. Not only do we look better, we all feel a huge sense of accomplishment. This was not easy.

By Saturday, our journey here has come to an end. We get weighed and measured; some of us lose anywhere from one to eight pounds!  We are told that the real measure of success weight-wise is the amount of inches we lose. At 12 inches lost, mostly around my torso, I’m a happy rancher.

We say our goodbyes. Sharing in this experience has not only brought a group of strangers together in the most intimate way, but has also powerfully transformed us as individuals. Some of us pledge to continue the gluten-free, dairy-free, alcohol-free, sugar-free, fun-free eating plan. The Ranch made it simple for us in that regard with such outstanding and fresh food.

Back at the Fairmont, surrounded by life’s temptations, I vow to drink more water, reduce my processed food intake, meditate daily for five minutes and, most importantly, live more mindfully.  I walk a block to a spin class at SoulCycle in Santa Monica. I pedal, close my eyes and think of the mountains.

Photo by Stephen Busken

Bradley Cooper Attends a SoulCycle Class, Chaos Ensues

Well guys, it looks like running in a garbage bag really pays off! Bradley Cooper and his abs are apparently sweeping through Manhattan and causing a ruckus. With the Oscars on the horizon and his film, Silver Linings Playbook, nominated for just about every award, the man’s got to look good in his tux. So yesterday, Cooper decided to squeeze in an early morning workout at the Tribeca location of cultish cycling club, SoulCycle—much to female riders delight, causing not only a rush of adrenaline but a possible hazard! 

According to the New York Post, Cooper was "trying to be incognito and wore a long-sleeved shirt for most of the ride," but as many know, when engaging in that ridiculous level of exercise, how can one’s clothing possibly stay on?! Nautrally, Coop ripped off his shirt by the end of class. "Girls were literally falling off their bikes," a source told the Post. If that mental image is not hilarious, I don’t know what is. 

Oh, and when class was finished and everyone was sweating in places you didn’t even know could excrete bodily fluids, some confident fans approached him. And being the kind gentleman he is, he graciously introduced himself and "even congratulated the girls on a great class." Thanks, Coop.

Sweatworking Is the New Power Lunch

Business deals aren’t going down during power lunches or cocktail hours anymore. That’s so pre-recession. Today, they’re often taking place at the gym. The New York Times uncovered this new multi-tasking trend, and called it sweatworking (That’s networking while sweating, by the way).

With business expense accounts not what they used to be, and prospective clients in food and wine atrophy, it’s the logical next step. What’s a favorite locale to workout amongst New York’s sweatworking set? Spinning classes. The lights and the pulsating music make it a weirdly social activity, like a nightclub crossed with, well, a spin clas. Places like SoulCycle and Flywheel Sports have seen an increase in corporate business over the last year.

Sarah Siciliano, who works as a business developer for an animation company, happened upon the sweatworking trend after realizing she could kill two birds with one stone if she could get clients to meet her at her spinning class. Ironically, she was missing her daily workout due to late nights out wining and dining clients. Siciliano saw the benefits immediately, according to the Times. Her clients responded positively and business started pouring in. This trend is taking hold because it is reawakening a bond between business associates that has vanished in the era of email and smartphones. So drop the glass, and head to the nearest stationary bike the next time you have an important meeting.

Industry Insiders: Julie Rice & Elizabeth Cutler, Poo-bahs of Pedal Power

SoulCycle co-founders Julie Rice (left) and Elizabeth Cutler describe their first meeting in 2006 much like the subsequent founding of their business: serendipitous. Julie had relocated to New York from Los Angeles, where she was first exposed to the indoor cycling trend, as well as the mind/body connection within cardio exercise. Elizabeth had taken up indoor cycling as a means to get back into shape after having her second child. “We met, we connected, and we totally saw eye to eye on what we thought was missing out there and what we could create,” says Cutler. “I started looking for real estate and found our first location on Craigslist.” Their progressive pay-per-class fitness model was, at first, a hard sell, but the SoulCycle community caught on quickly.

“Most fitness centers are membership businesses,” says Rice. “The main thing is getting people to join, and once they sign on the dotted line, you’re going to collect their dues whether they come to your gym or not for as long as you can until they realize they’ve been paying a monthly fee for something they don’t use for way too long. Then, it still takes them six months to figure out how to end it.” SoulCyle now runs five celeb-favored New York, Hamptons and Scarsdale locations that the founders call “fitness sanctuaries.” Classes are held in comfortable, candlelit rooms, ideal for fitting in some R&R for body, mind, and spirit.